Heard in Holston: Credit union runs toward the future

Heard in Holston: Credit union runs toward the future

Sept. 10, 2018 | Briefs from around the conference

I'm a member of the Holston Methodist Federal Credit Union. Are you? I held off joining for many years -- until I had a major home repair that I couldn’t cover. The credit union accepted me as a member and gave me a loan to fix my house. I’m still grateful.

Gratitude for the credit union is apparently behind the concern of members who say they’re not receiving sufficient answers about turmoil in the organization’s management. In February 2018, the board of directors abruptly informed the membership, by email, of the “departure” of longtime CEO Janet Tidwell.

A couple of cryptic public meetings followed, the most recent on Aug. 18 when about 65 members gathered at Cokesbury United Methodist Church to learn that (1) a new CEO search was underway and (2) a $90,407 net income loss existed at the end of 2017. The Rev. Grady Winegar was applauded after speaking his frustration in response to the mysterious nature of the leadership change and resulting litigation, which the current leadership says has required them to remain tight-lipped.

Dennis Bowker, interim CEO and a member of Washington Pike UMC, declined to answer questions by email, forwarding them to the Rev. Reed Shell, chair of the board of directors, who also didn’t answer questions. Reed did suggest a story after the new CEO is selected.

Janet, who was employed by the credit union for 27 years, says the current membership for the 62-year-old organization is about 2,300.


The last time I saw Rev. R.B. Anderson, he was sprinting toward the finish line of the Annual Conference 5K race. He was 68 at the time. I was impressed.

But then again, R.B., a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, was impressive in so many ways. I know because I wrote a story about him when he was chaplain at River North Correctional Center in Independence, Virginia. After serving his country for many years, R.B. made $24,500 a year and slept on a church couch so he could be closer to the incarcerated men who had won his heart. “I could have been one of those guys,” he told me.

I thought of R.B. when I received Rev. Terri Johnson Gregory’s invitation to a special event on Sept. 13. “It is an event to recognize the donors and volunteers from 2013 to present who have given their time and money to fund a chaplain inside River North,” Terri said. “All other adult prisons in Virginia receive Department of Corrections funding except River North. The chaplain's position is totally funded by the community.”

Terri is a fervent supporter of the prison ministry at River North, where R.B. used to offer the light of God to inmates convicted of the most serious of crimes. In the past five years, area pastors and congregations have raised $100,000 so R.B. and the current chaplain, Rev. Randy McDaniel, could be on the premises for River North’s 1,300 residents. The Sept. 13 event begins with a light dinner at 6 p.m. at Flat Rock United Methodist Church in Independence.

R.B. died of pancreatic cancer at age 69 in April 2017. I like to think of him running that race, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God called him.


Contact Annette Spence at annettespence@holston.org.


Past columns:
August 27

August 8

August 1




Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.